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tv   Alex Berenson Tell Your Children  CSPAN  May 12, 2019 3:00pm-4:20pm EDT

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the work when we use it in circumstances that don't involve something that the government may not do to you or allow and facilitate happening to you. >> afterwords airs saturdays at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on book tv on c-span2 and all previous afterwords programs are available as pod cost and to watch online at >> welcome to stern policy center at hudson institute, i'm john walters, chief operating officer and codirect center of substance abuse policy research. i want to send special welcome to those of you who are joining us from c-span and those online who are watching on this important topic.
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we are very pleased and honor to be joined by alex whose new book marijuana, marijuana tell your children, truth about marijuana, mental illness and violence has gotten an awful lot of attention and deserves even more. we've got copies available, we want to purchase it and alex agreed to sign books after the event, if you want to get a copy, you get a copy or send someone you know who should read it, you're welcome to encourage to do so. you have a cheat with alex's bio, let me briefly summarize that by saying, gifted young man, graduating from yale, became a successful journalist whose writer from "the new york times" is covered in iraq, hurricane katrina, has then turned to a very successful
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right out of the block career as novelist or won award for novel and went on and continued in a very successful career as writer-journalist, then i thought maybe we would start off by explaining he made the decision to write this book which cost him to become vilified and life threatened, he has breaking bad story here and i thought i would lit him start out by explaining what happened, what went wrong and what went right here. >> thank you, john, thank you so much for having me. so as i mentioned in the book, i decided to write this a couple of years ago after my wife, who is a forensic psychiatrist, i had one too many conversations where she told me that somebody she was evaluating had committed some horrendous crime under the influence of cannabis and i told
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her, really, wasn't some other drug involved? and that sounds like madness to me, she told me go read the studies and she is the one who trained at harvard and colombia, she's the one who is seeing patients, she knew exactly what she was talking about and so the book in some ways as ifght investigative reporter for the times was pretty easy to write, at least parts of it, i had national academy to draw, i had dozens of studies in journals drawn, the science seemed cleared and unequivocal to me and i had scientists, clinician scientists, researchers from all over the world who were willing to talk to me and when i asked them about correlation, here is how we tee that out.
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the most interesting part of the book as a reporter, how do we get here? how do we get to the point where scientific community has broad consensus, certainly the psychiatric community and yet the public perception about cannabis has gone the other way now legalizing and the legalization likes to pretend, the u.s. is outlier, so much more conservative, in fact, we aren't outlier, we are more liberal. so that was what the book, i mean, that's not -- that's not what the book is mainly about but to me more interesting question as investigative reporter and there were spots in the book master class for me in how we got here and by the way, thousand opioid epidemic got to
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the place that it is now because journalists see, i mean, there's a massive failure of journalism around cannabis and in general despite what we have seen with opioids, despite what we have seen with cigarettes, people seem to be unable to get it through their heads that the manufacturers of different products cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the risk of those products. it's beyond me. and so, you know, the skepticism that as times reporter about farm industry is completely lacking, from the coverage of marijuana in the united states. >> you unlike some of the other people working and some of this as government official, you have through the power of this book spoken to people, reviews in national review, review in american conservative and kind
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of you don't see very often. i may disagree, but this is very, very shocking and something we need to pay attention to. say a little bit about how you -- how -- how some of the arguments for those who don't follow the issue or have not read your book and i do recommend that you do because besides the other things, somebody who has written on this stuff it's hard to make data, something you want to read because it's pages and numbers and you've done a beautiful job, you're obviously a greater on teenaging individual examples and lagger e contexts of the studies and making their points clear and readable, but tell me what -- you started out as you are agreeing with your space and, you know, i've learned the hard way too. don't be surprised that you are going to lose. [laughter] >> so your wife is right and then you find out that your attitude which was probably the attitude of most americans today
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, subject of the day when people are on the long side of cannabis. tell me what you saw and what -- how you found the arguments of the book to be most powerful because you're making this argument now. >> so i think the book, you know, i do think my experience helped me, a couple of points, one my very first book was nonfiction book, the number, accounting scandal of the really -- of the entire 20th century, especially the 90's and, you know, it's a fine book, came out the week the war started, iraq war in 2003. and was completely ignored. and somebody i know -- an editor i know, said, well, it's a nice book but there's not very many people in it and people like to read about people and it's a
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lesson that i never forgot and so i tried to find ways to tell the story through the scientists and who these people are, all of them are pretty interesting people. and at the same time i tried to show that he's known this on some level for a long time. so the book starts more than 100 years ago and focuses on what was on in psychiatric hospital and scientists who i would love to, you know, have a dinner with that guy in 1900's, it is so much on point with what psychiatrists in psychiatric hospitals see today. the books sort of build and once you have an idea that i'm not just going off and telling you madness, here is where you can
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depend on me to explain science, then i get into here are some personal stories of people who have been affected by this and then would come, the third book is about horrible, horrible cases of psychosis and violence with cannabis component to them. i was fortunate, one of the people that committed the murders was the one that talked to me and i got some very good, very comprehensive data, you know, details on some other cases and so, you know, drawing a little bit as novelist i put that together in a way i hope is interesting to people. the legalization community hates the book, the for profit companies, you know, in the industry hate the book because i think it does traumatize this in a way that kind of grabs you by the throat where even, even if
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you think the science overstated the strength, i don't see how you read this book and say, this is an issue that needs to be seriously considered. part of the rhetorical problem the science is showing you and even as you say, evidence for the relation to violence is all around and we don't see it. the problem is not ignorance, the problem is willful closing of the eyes and unwilling to embrace that. i wonder now that you have done the book and thought about this, thought about making argument and also as you talk about the book, why are we blind? >> there's a study actually that came out this month showing how coverage for cannabis has changed in "the new york times" in about 20 years and how that changed directly, change in
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public attitude. so most people don't use cannabis. you know, half the country never used it. in 2017 only 15% of people have used it once. very heavily concentrated in a small group of people who use it every day. love the drug. it's a whole other issue that we can talk about but most people don't use and most americans are depending on the media to tell them, is it safe, is it dangerous, oh, it's safe, you know, the new yorkers run article about food at dinner party, the times is going to have style piece about how, you know, how i gave cbd to my dog. the absurd stories that would not be written about any other
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intoxicant much less drug with severe side effects are presented without question. the washington post had a story last year, i don't know if it was on the opposite. it was an opinion piece from a woman in vermont who was talking about mothering cannabis and how it made her a better parent, well, you know, the washington post might want to look at the statistics from florida and texas and arizona that show that in a third of child deaths the participants are cannabis users, more than any other drug, more than alcohol, this is an epidemic that has been not just ignored by the media but tapered over. >> yeah, the other thing is i think the -- both psychiatric threat of cannabis has not been fully appreciated despite the studies, but also -- i want to go back to that.
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you also pointed out there's prominent and horrifying national stories that involve cannabis. that's not considered, could you say a little bit about that? >> well, so there are many, many cases in which cannabis is linked to violence. this is the point you make which infuriates the people on the other side. they are willing to say, well, there's some sol steps they don't want to go as far but when you made -- when i read the actions to the critics, when you make arguments, they go into rage which is ironic. >> you should follow twitter feed. no joke. by the way, i would disagree with you, i think the drug advocacy, the drug advocacy community, the drug policy reform community is not honest about the psychiatric risks at
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all. they are severely downplayed, so once you understand that schizophrenia is a major driver of violence not just in the united states but everywhere, and again, i'm not going to say obviously most murders are not committed by people, they are likely -- significant minority of people in u.s. prisons and you know that, 20 times most likely to commit homicide as healthy people and the risk is mediated by drug use, if you're taking your antipsychotics and taking care of yourself you're not likely to get violence and once you are off your meds and you are using drugs, violence is off the charts, the highest risk of all is when people who are suffering first break they are undiagnosed and, you know, young
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man especially who, you know, these are the people who go home with their families on break for colleges on terrible cases, so once you realize cannabis does cost psychosis, even advocates cannot dispute that it causes temporary psychosis, the evidence is extremely strong. once you know the psychsosi is linked to violence and linked to drug use, i think the question becomes not is this true but how big a fraction of the violence in the united states and severe violence, cannabis is actually responsible for and secondarily there's huge amount of violence around cannabis which police authorities now are increasingly take note of and the idea that this is -- that this is related,
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prohibited doesn't seem to be true, actually because even as states like california, colorado, there's significant, remains significant amount of violence, if not more than there was a few years ago. and by the way, opioids, you know, cocaine can produce psychosis when they use it a lot. we know met met can. there's certainly violence dealing and trafficking of those drugs, nobody says, a, nobody says those drugs are not linked to violence as people insist must not be true for cannabis, but b, there's actually considerable more violence around cannabis dealing than -- opioid dealing for whatever reason, very little violence, people are just too desperate to get the drug, for whatever reason cannabis dealing is linked to massive amount of violence and i personally
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believe although we don't have evidence to prove this yet, i think the fact that it produces low grade paranoia in many yearsers, does not rise to the level of psychosis probably helps fuel that violence. >> let me ask you a little bit about research that you talked about in detail about where you looked at smaller studies done carefully longitude over the numbers of years, it's hard to do in large populations like to united states, hard to keep track of people, you've gone to smaller countries, smaller places to try to get the actual phenomena itself identified and isolated. tell me a little bit what you found with regard to the amount of time it takes and we talked about some of the phenomenas, it's not like, well, this is a poison that you take and you get sick right away, one of the problems in appreciating the
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risk, delay minimize it is risk and there's multiple things going on so people can be confused or be in denial. what did you find and what's your guess is as to how long the increase in intensity and use takes to manifest? >> that's a really good question and i think we don't know yet for a couple of reasons, first of all, cannabis that's being used in the united states, i mean, are being used in the united states, this is a scientific experiment on the human brain that's almost without parallel. we have -- we have data, you know, from 60's and 70's and 80's and 90's, that cannabis is much less potent. if people really we wanted to ingest a lot they could, it was much more harder to do when -- when you're smoking a joint that's 1 or 2% pt, extras that
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are 90% or 5% or ingesting edibles which are increasingly preferred form of use which goes through the liver. >> that's important point that edibles are more attractive, they also gummy bear or juice, something where children can be -- young people be urged to use it. that's not neutral in regard -- >> i can tell you from talking to people who are experienced users who have had bad experiences, bad psychedelic and psychic experience, you know, there's data from finland that suggests, you know, if you're hospitalized for cannabis psychosis, 50% chance in the
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next several years, 8 years that you'll ultimately get diagnosis of schizophrenia. there's strong data showing that if you begin using as a teen, suggests that, you know, that it's accelerateing and i think there's data, i don't know if it's from denmark against showing -- this showed shorter, 3 or 4-year lag between the first hospitalization and a permanent diagnosis of schizophrenia. but you also realize that's not the first day of use, that's the first time that you come to the attention of the public health system, so you put it altogether, is it 3, 4, 5, 6 years from use to break, probably depends on the genetic vulnerability, probably depends on how heavily you use, when you
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start using and now depends on the potency of the products. i can tell you having heard from parents now many parents since the book came out, there are clearly kids, young adults, teens and young adults who begin using and within a matter of months are basically hopelessly addicted to this drug and continue to use even as their mental health rapidly -- i heard from a doctor in texas whose son began to use at 15, within a few months had dropped out of high school, he went to private school and less than 4 years later was diagnosed with psychotic break and admitted to the hospital and showed symptoms of psychosis, that's less than a 4-year period. , you know, i've heard, i think
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the more psychiatricically help you are at baseline, these are basically guess on inference, the longer it takes for condition bus to break you if it's going to break you and so, i've also heard from people who are in their 30's, i've used for a long time and recently i've had symptoms but i've heard in people in 30's, i've never used the drug and i started using and within a matter of months i started to have paranoia and, you know, psychotic episodes. equivalent of lost weekend, the novel and memoir that is about here is how i got into this even though i knew it wasn't a good idea. the books have not been written.
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what i do worry with high potency stuff, nicotine and many kids, many teens who start nicotine wind up vaping thc very quickly. some of those will break not in 5 years but in 1 or 2 years, if that's correct, we might start to see a real epidemic of psychosis in the next couple of years. i'm not saying that's going to happen but i will say this, one of the things legalization community says, one of the big talking points, there's been huge increase in cannabis use in the west in the last 25 years and, you know, dating back longer than that and there hasn't been a population, first of all, in the u.s. we don't
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know if that's true. actually some hint now that psychiatric in-patient hospitalizations in people 18 to 25 have gone up a lot in the last few years and we don't have any national data on the incidents of psychosis either schizophrenia or broader definition of psychosis, in denmark and finland, real increase in schizophrenia diagnoses and both of the countries saw big increases in cannabis use in 90's and they've seen big increase in potency more recently. you can no longer say there's no evidence of a population increase just like, that does not prove, does not prove that cannabis causes increase, what it says if one of the things that the legalizers say is no longer true.
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another thing they say that's provable untrue is that cannabis legalization decreases violent crime. that is untrue based on what's happened in colorado, oregon and washington which are the only four states data for more than a year, crime, violent crime, murders and aggravated assault have increased substantially in fourth states when legalization, recreational legalization began in 2014, january 1st, 2014 in california. if you look at murderers in denmark, murders in denmark almost doubled in 2013, murders in seattle doubled, more important number because whether you live or die after gunshot can depend a lot of things, how quickly you get to the hospital, relatively small numbers of homicides, assaults are big numbers and up about 50% in those two cities.
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you know, in portland, spokane, the people who said regallization would reduce crime, give chance to focus on violent criminals and black market, but as cory booker said in 2017 when when he introduced bill, those people need to stop saying that, it's not true and journalists would have been doing their job, they would have known it's not true. i don't understand why cannabis is not fact-checked. >> i want to ask you because one of the criticisms that you touched on the book has received is the argument that a lot of the evidence is based on correlations and -- and not cause and effect which was an issue with regard to smoking and cancer and other kinds of things where fi -- phenomena caused
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links, can you say a little bit about how, first of all, when you hear the criticism, well, they are saying that the sun comes up, can you say a little bit about what is going on here and what's going through the data. >> correlation does not prove, the earth spins, so looking at correlation is a good place to start and when you're epdem epdemmiaologist, is there a plausible biological mechanism in the case of cannabis, when we challenge and dechallenge people with preexisting secrets friendia, when most people stop using and begin using again, does the disease worsen, is there a way to look at
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analogues. is there data that reproducible from different countries from different time periods, can we look at factors of family history, other drug use, can we look at preexisting symptoms and all of those boxes have been checked for cannabis. there will never be a control trial to see if cannabis causes psychosis, that would be completely unethical, it would not be allowed -- first of all, impossible, many, many thousand people for many years, so if you work to prove this, you are never going to get there. you'll always be able to say, okay, you know what, this hasn't improved to certainty. there's never showed rct that tobacco shows cancer because that would be unethical but when everything points the same way and you have -- i would say the
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weaker -- the weakest part actually, the part that's weaker, not rct, it's because science is primitive despite all the work, we don't really have a biological story to tell, we know that tobacco can cause problems and so dna and ultimately you get cancer and changes, changes that lead totemmors. we don't know -- there's no blood test for it, there's no brain scan for it, there's no way to send somebody -- this is diagnosis and much less reforms of mental illness, depression and sang -- anxiety and they are all self-report. you will say to me you can't show me in the brain how this causes schizophrenia, i will say, okay, you show me what
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schizophrenia is in the brain. you shoe me the disease and what the disorder actually is, guess what, we don't have that. i would say science is very strong and but in -- >> in that regard, i want to ask you since we tell a story about people who have suffered from schizophrenia and -- and breaks of realities and involved in violence, do you think the medical community is diagnosing this? .. ..
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i challenge anyone who reads the book to figure out where -- >> got these people to sign this letter and almost none of them were marylands, almost none of them were doctor and only two of them are psychiatrists, and both of those had long-standing connections to the cannabis industry. the shrinks don't want to deal with this. they have enough heat over add and being called pill pushers, and this is a difficult issue to deal with. they know. the e.r. docs now but your job is to clean up the wreckage. it is going into the hospital, knowing that somebody is going to come in a car accident or gunshot wound or psychotic ask trying to fix them.
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this is not a long-term relationship, although you might see the person over and over again these days. the people who see this the most closely don't want to deal with -- dope -- either dope want to deal with in the case of the apa or dew point want to keel with. the pediatricians have done a somewhat better job, and the ama has mostly stayed away from this. so the clinicians have not spoken out as i wish they would. i think as this problem gets worse, ultimately they will start to speak out. by the way, unfortunately, if you look at the history of doctors, primary carry doctors prescribing psycho active drugs in 20th century up to the opioid epidemic it's not a great history. if you're a doctor and your patients are demanding x or y from you, it is sometimes easier just to write the scrip and get them out. if your patient is smoking
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cannabis and showingdisordered thinking or die sew sis. you're trying to get that person to a visit. a fact of medicine and i don't blame clinicians. it's a fast ball. it's the people who see ask psychotic patients and have not spoken out yet. >> the legalization effort, as you have discussed, had two stages. the first was to talk but marijuana as medicine, and then to use the people who made claims that i use tress and felt better, my family member use is this people who spoke with power or inassert and then moved to large scale or recreational legalization. since a lot of people are going to hear and have heard the kind
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of testimony of people saying -- plus you now have people who advocate for veterans who are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, begin mcdonald's, a joined form of treatment. efforts to get the va to prescribe. can you talk about how to understand that? >> sure. so, there's a couple confusions here that the industry and the legalizers have pushed. the confusion between cbd and thc. cbd is nonpsycho active. you can buy cbd in most of the country in grocery stores. and it's marketed for a variety of things and probably done do very much for it. it does work as medicine, medically prescribe drug, to treat childhood seizures which is great, and there is a company, several companies but a company in print called gw
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pharma which is looking for ways to treat people with cbd and other chemicals in the plant, and that's great. i think that if there are chemicals in marijuana that are beneficial as pharmaceuticals we should find those and use them. and by the way the idea that research is not being actively and aggressively conducted in the united stateses completely up true, desspeeds the schedule 1 designation. the university of california has a center for medical cannabis research. so there's cbd and if you think cpd will treat your this or inson anymore ya or give your dog a glossy coat, have at it. doesn't matter. the stuff is for most people probably relatively benign. an expensive placebo. then thc is the chemical that people use to get high. when people smoke marijuana, they want to get thc into their lungs, their blood, their brain,
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because thc activates the receptor in your brain and gets you high. very little to do with cbd. they look almost the same chemically. cbd does not touch to the cb1 receptor in your brain so all those stories about people taking cbd and miraculously getting their sight back or have nothing to do with why most people use marijuana. most users. the legalization community is totally aware of that. as for thc's medicinal properties, they are -- so, they -- thc has been shown to weapon he chemotherapy associated nausea, for people who don't have chemotherapy that's obviously not an issue other. drugs that work with that but okay, it works for that. it's great. there's an idea that thc has been shown to treat pain. not really. thc probably reduces your
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sensation of pain in the short run. for the most part it's only been compared to placebo. if i gave everybody here a shot of bourbon, you'd all probably feel also less pain. doesn't mean alcohol is a good pain reliever in the long run. and there's actually good data from a study in australia that came out last year showing that people who use thc had more pain at the end of four years and used more opioid ted end of four years than people who didn't. the idea that thc really should be approved for pain relief is -- the fda would never approve a drug for pain relief that has the weak clinical trial data that thc does for pain, and i think thc probably can't realistically be tested for most conditions because it is psychiatric's side effects are so obvious that you have to exclude many people from any clinical trials. and certainly for long-run
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chronic conditions like pain, there would be no ethical way to run clinical trials but the cannabis community, del halt by in my mind, confuses thc and cbd and don't acknowledge that most people who got the medical licenses, recreational years before they started using. rob, who used to run the marijuana policy project was honest and said, 6% of people who use -- got the authorizations really have some legitimate medical purpose. everybody else we were protecting from arrest. okay. to me is this is a great cynical move in the american pock poll. >> want to legalize this drug say it is a recreational intoxicant and will kill some people, destroy some people but alcohol does that, too tobacco.
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to you can go to a casino and see people lost their homes, were adults, so be it, then okay. but pretending this is medicine is a great lie and it has confused a lot of well-meaning people who don't use the drug, don't know what it's used for, and that's why 95% of the country favors medical marijuana, americans are faithmindded people and the idea that if i'm dying of hiv or cancer i should be allowed to use whatever i can because it might benefit me. that arguing had great traction. the fact that it has nothing to do with the reality of the drug didn't bother the psychiatric -- the legalization community at all and we're seeing a very similar move made with psychedelics right now. whether it's legalize this stuff for people i it can benefit for end of life use. one of the -- so the modern medical marijuana movement started in 1996. prop 215 in california. what people don't no there was a
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second blot initiative that year in arizona but didn't just cover marijuana. covered all schedule 1 drugs, heroin, lsd, anything with a physician's authorization. and that was -- it and passed. it passed. and the arizona legislature said, no way. and after that, the legalizers got smart and never made that mistake again. said marijuana is not like other schedule one drugs. it's medicine. and that argument won -- among the many terrible things that hat done is it's confused people who are most at risk, people who have psychiatrist conditions might actually believe this guess for them, people who are at high risk of day, hasn't be sold the myth that cannabis is the cure for opioid addiction but you are much more likely to be a user offers heroin or
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cocaine if you used cannabis first and showing the drugs on an individual basis, forget that the statewide epidemiological data because it's weak, meaningless. people would use first are much lower likely to use opioids three years later. a very good paper that has got nonattention. the paper published in internal medicine in 2014 still gets referenced. even though the database ten years old and recent data, the defining is basically gone. so once again, this is journalist failing to tell people what they need to know. it is embarrass michigan tomas former journalist that people have been so ideologically driven. >> there's a last question. some of the work we do at hudson involves employment, economic analysis, policy with regard to regulation and some of me
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colleagues have been talking to people in the business community at the trades and asking them about how they see certain policy options, trade policy and others, and found that they'll get stopped by people in business and say, communities say, wait a minute, i'm having troubling finding a sober work force. i'm having trouble finding people who are -- can stay at work ask having trouble paying the health care costs of them and their families because of substance abuse, across substances. i mentioned to you i saw a video from the cannabis advocacy organizations, talking about, hey, get in on the ground floor of this business, it's going a trillion dollars, going to be like buying apple when they were in a garage. there's a lot of force moving this forward, and i guess i'd
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like to know what you see is going to happen in the next five to ten years. >> i think it's quite likely that we'll get full national legalization. with a democrat in 2020 that's extremely likely. all the candidate have come out in favor of it. and it's -- this has been driven by the media, which -- the legalizer who have driven the media who have driven voters. if you're a representative and 65% of the country wants something, it's pretty -- even if you think it's a bad idea, eventually the will of the voters does typically win, and so this is going to take a long time to turn around. i think. it's going to take a long time for the truth to come out, i should say. in a year or two i don't know what my life will be like. i feel like i've been forced to a position where i had to defend my book. i know me book is true. what people are saying is not
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true so i'll keep defending it. i'd like to go back to writing novels. not that i don't enjoy being up here. >> giving a bit of the drug czar experience of people veil identifying you and attack -- veil identifying you and attacking you. >> . >> so whether or not i do that, there are warrants out there -- parents who have lost their children to this, and if you think that losing a child to opioids and getting the call that your son ods is the worst thing that could happen is you're wrong the worst thing is knowing your son is on the streets somewhere, schizophrenic, your college graduate, bright future son, who started smoking, and who got psychotic and has been hopsized over and over again, that call that you're waiting for is not
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he died of an overdose. it's he killed himself or he killed himself and he killed someone else, too. and those parents, they're not going to forget and they are going to fight this industry, and it's really interesting to me how quickly things turned into the '70s. the same situation where legalization -- there was not the same level of public support but there was rising public support -- the democrat in the white house in the late '70s. there was this feeling that let's do it. the counterculture has won. marijuana mars is not so bad which is more true then, the thc levels were much lower. nonetheless, once enough parents saw what hat happened to their kids, and once it became clear that cannabis use led to cocaine use for a lot of people, it's so amazing to me that the legalization community has managed to snow people on the fact that cannabis use is so high in this country and opioid
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crisis. we in canada, too two done witches the most cannabis used and opioid use, this biggest number of opioid overdose deaths -- but once that happened, once parents saw first hand the support for legalization basically blew up overnight, and marijuana use went down from 1979 to 1991, went down by half. and to some extent that set the stage for what has happened now. there's so many people weren't using them. it was relatively niche drug, and so when prop 215 hit the legalization community, had a large group of people who had no idea, but the collapse in public support was very fast, and legallers have been savvier and tried to avoid marketing to
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teaches and so there aren't as many teens using -- relative number of young adults as in the '70s remember that's the one good thing that has happened in the last 15 or 20 yours but because of juul, vaping, people start using thc, we're exposing a lot of teenage brains to high potency thc and going to be a lot of parents who don't like what they see. i'm not saying -- i don't think that -- i think legalization right now has a tremendous momentum and if a domestics wins in 2020 it would be a tragic mistake. if donald trump or -- is reelected or howard shut, if a democrat does not win in 2020, it is possible-i think, that the health consequences will be so
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obvious within a matter of years will be a collapse in public support for legalization and the tide will roll out again as it did in the late 70s but if you give may dollar and said you have to bet on legalization or not, we're bet on legalization. >> i don't want to put words in your mouth but i take it even if legalization happens the consequences, given what the momentum, the potency, the growing evidence of violence and many -- mental illness, it's just not sustainable. >> ten million people died in the u.s. from cigarette smoking. cigarettes are still legal. alcohol kills a lot of people. hotel level. the one difference is psychiatric hospitalizations are so expensive. if you have to open a ton of new hospitals but probably wouldn't do that. just dope people up and just have a whole bunch of zombies
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walking around. >> you fear that is sustainable. >> unfortunately. here's the one other thing that -- the violence associated with this kind of psychosis is deeply disturbing to people, as it should be. if that continues and rises, -- >> you make a comment that not only is it horrendous but a disproportion is focused on children. >> children, vulnerable adults, strangers. it's not the sort of classic bar fight where -- that turns into gunfight where either person could be the victim or perpetrator. psychotic violence is not like that. it is so awful that often times the elite media done -- they say we won't talk about this. but that could turn things, too. but we -- 20 years of myths, 20 years of a bad journalism doesn't get undone overnight.
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there's going to have to be unfortunately some negative consequences that people can see with their own eyes. >> we would like to open it up to questions. let me preface it by saying a question is a relatively short sentence or two with a question mark. at the end of it. if you want to make a statement, that's fine their internet exists for that. let me ask that we take some questions from the audience. i'll open it up to anybody. >> could you wait for the microphone since we have people listening. thank you. >> thank you for the interesting presentation. my question will be about the legalization process globally, because its seems that it affects the legalization process in the united states also affects -- have some effect on the globally. in developing countries where
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the law enforcement is weak, for example, it might become more problematic. but we have examples. for example in armenia right now there's a public discussion, public debate whether or not to decriminalize and legalize marijuana. your comments on that. >> certainly true that legalization has been led by community in the u.s. which -- again, that has essentially lied about the state of legalization elsewhere. based on the data i've seen about european drug arrests, more likely to be arrested -- even previous to the -- the decriminalization -- the full legalization in california -- more likely to be arrested for possession through europe relative to use rates as in the u.s.
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i think -- if i were in another country, policymaker in another country and they may feel some of the same pressure phenomenon voters but in another country i would say, let's see what happens in canada and colorado and california, and if it looks great, if those places sail into the sunset of higher tax revenue and no increase in violence and everybody gets to have a joint at the end of the day and we're all singing kumbiya, let's go for it. that's not what is going to happen, and i think to the extent that this -- that this process gets delayed, it's bad for legalization because the harms become so obvious fairly quickly. so, i just know that in spain they're considering moving fur. know in italy they're considering. if you're a policymaker in another country, what is the
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rush? you can watch what is happening in canada and the u.s. >> another question. >> you mentioned physicians sell time and there's the american society of addiction medicine that focuses on addiction issues. there's also many efforts nationally to train physicians to identify addiction issues and then refer into treatment. my question to you is, given what you say is a lack of ownership or training or responsibility, what do you think we should as a country do to train our physicians better? >> well, i do not preto end be an expert on medical education. i was tack us in the context as a physician in the real world, seeing your patients day-to-day. i was not a psychiatrickist.
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and psychiatrists receive training in what to do about violent patients. they need to. that is a difficult spot in the real world, and obviously it would be nice if physicians -- it would be nice if patients were honest with physicians about their use and nice if physicians could have long conversations about this. i think in the real world that's a lot to ask. what i hope eggs at the top level, at the ama, the national congress level, that the leaders of these societies would take a public position and get people -- get the public ware of the seriousness of the issue. think there's two parts to your question. when i was in the white house drug policy office, we sponsored with some of these medical groups an effort to increase the training of physicians and,
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frankly, front-line e.r. personnel to do screenings and brief intervention because that was -- we knew that people that had substance abuse problems were nor likely to come into the system and could be better reaped, not every time but the more you try, the more you get. the other part is what he was referring to which is a kind of honest statement about the fraud going on here by the people who have the medical credibility and the organizations that have that credibility about the danger, about what needs to be looked at, about some of the systems we have had and let go dormant to report on what is happening in emergency rooms with regard to substance abuse episodes. we have a vast estimate that involves a lot of government payment for services as well quiet. begin to track this in real time and see what is happening in more aggregate form in places
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like colorado or california or other parts of the country. we're not using the data in that way. not the kind of urgency, and some of that urgency would come if in of the professional organizations would say we august to be investing in learning because there's a danger we know and we want the country to be aware of. that's not chappers to profiles in courage being written here. >> other questions. why don't we start back there. >> you talked but organizations that attack you. there are any that now you think you put this out there are taking a second look or being more receptive or is that not happening is? it just this tug of war between you and the legalization community? >> if dpa is having conversations with more honestly discussing risks they have not
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told me. >> john referred to more and more work places having trouble finding people who are not on one form of addiction -- one form of drug or another. there is any data yet to -- on things like workplace accidents or maybe more generally things like traffic accidents? >> there's some data coming out of colorado and washington. in general, traffic accidents where thc is found in the bloodstream of the driver have again up. i don't know about workplace accidents. i will say that a couple times from people on the legalization side or scientists who favor legalization, they say, you
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know, this book does a disservice because you're talking but a risk of sigh exposes and the real problem is that a lot of people get addicted and it messes up their lives and they just don't really work, they just kind of float through life, they're not a successful as they could be, and i say to them, is that a reason to legalize? i'm confused about what you're saying here. it does seem clear that -- whether you believe the iq data or not, there are strong measures of societal disadvantage that cannabis use seems to worsen. i didn't focus on that in the book because i thought this risk was so important and not very well understood. but i do think that a country where several million people are daily users, where we have essentially created a population
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so there's 12 million daily users of alcohol every day, not all those people have a problem. but certainly people probably are using alcohol all day, every day, have a problem with alcohol, and they're now 8 million plus daily users of cannabis, tripling in the last 15 years. a lot of those people use all day every day. that's a wake and bake. it's called that for a reason. and so -- those people use a lot of -- a lot of cannabis. those people are not -- that's a personal decision. okay? reality is. i'm not a -- i'm not going to -- i drink, i play cards. that's your decision but you are probably not achieving all you could if you're going through life that way. maybe there's some exceptions but there's quite a bit of evidence that people who use at that level have problems. >> do you have a question?
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>> i wonder, when you're talking about politics and we're watching somebody like cam -- kamala harris making marijuana look cool and wonderful, are you seeing anything on the left, either academia, politics, anybody, saying other than her father, -- this is not cool. >> no. no people like to call me nancy reagan, harry. >> worse things. >> i've -- when you're an investigative report are you get used to people saying this is a larger group of people saying this. no, the left loves cannabis misjoke is when i want to get high -- get psychotic i don't
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smoke pot, i weich high attendance, a show on hbo with-under friendly neighborhood drug dealer deliver to a nine-month pregnant woman and a bunch of teenaged girls. would that be okay if your were delivering heroin or alcohol? would we be cool with the portrayal of him as a hero? but cannabis is its own island remember it's bizarre. it's like it's half garlic and have st. john's with a tiny bit of alcohol in there. it cheers what ails you makes you a better mother. just bizarre. this is a recreational intoxicant with psychiatric side effects and why we pretend it's anything else is just beyond me. >> hi. as journalist i want to say i
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think it has also a lot to do with the fact that the media is shrinking and there's more news than over to cover. wonder if you could touch on the other things, fetal -- the relationship to perhaps some sort of fetal syndrome, like what is happening to kids and the link to depression and other health disorders and love to know if you -- mr. walters, where do you stand on this? are you opposed to further legalization? >> yeah. i mean, we -- our center is was designed to help put out the information that is available in some of the research that's going on, some of the surveys, because they're not covered. i think marijuana is the biggest distorted spot of reporting and our consciousness, denail of what is happening, because as he pointed out, some of the evidence goes back to medical studies that are from the 19th . so, this is not been a mystery
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in terms of science and reporting, and i goes right up through -- there is senate testimony or house testimony that was done shortly after world war ii but substance abuse. we have had a lot of information and it's all been going one way remember the most recent research is even more troubling because it shows the expects of higher potency and the effects of what we're not able to measure with tornado psychological and other cognitive problems. the problem is not that the evidencesen there that's what is so i think masterfully marshaled in alex's book, but people don't want tohart, don't want to see what is around them. one of the most shocking parts of his book is the part on violence where he talks about what we actually see from notorious nationally publicized events of violence that involve
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heavy cannabis use and people -- it's sometimes not reported, sometimes it's report he trivially and people don't want to see it. bring up the mass violent, shocking crimes, have a link to cannabis use, that is considered to be an illegitimate comment. that couldn't possibly be true because this just makes you like cheech and chong, not a bad, violent, dangerous person and yet over and over again you see events and they're just dismissed. so, that is a problem. think that's both a journalistic problem and what journalists are selling to an audience, if you say people that say that can't be true issue they don't listen to you. there's real problem and it's a service for how al -- we tried to get some of this information out because frankly, there was a reluctance to do that in the obama administration.
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had a policy position. and they did not want to highlight some of the data that was happening. okay remember that was political. i think it's wrong, it's not keeping with the truth, but okay. but even now, there's a lack of willingness to address this, and use see the pressures going on, on capitol hill with regard to both parties. we have former speaker john boehner, who is the spokesperson now for a part of the cannabis industry. the was involved in this individualover i saw about going to be a trillion dollar industry. get in on the ground floor. you're stupids if you don't do this. everybody will be using it all the time. >> maybe a trillion dollars in liability associated. >> i wait to release the sharks. that will be a better outcome here. but we'll see. you asked ol' lex but the data aboutdown people and infants. >> i think there's some
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interesting evidence -- i don't think anything has been prompt it's very hard with pregnancy. how are you going to accurately measure risks or use, and often times these conditions are relatively rare, severe birth defects are relatively rare so it's hard to pick up. i don't think anybody has been proven. i shouldn't say that because the nam i believe may have mentioned a couple of places where there's strong evidence but off the top of my head i can't recall. as for depression, yes, definitely now increasing evidence that the cannabis use as a teenager is linked to depression. jama skies of a paper on that issue. that's not surprising. psychosis is the most severe mental illness really if cannabis can cause psychosis,
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why would it not be able to produce other forms of mental illness. >> that's -- i don't want to sound overfully lip and i'm not a brain scientist but that's my gut reacts to that. i think the idea that you would use this to treat your depression and anxiety or that manufacturers and distributors and retailers of this would promote it for that reason, as i saw last year when i was in san francisco, the big billboard that said, hello, marijuana, goodbye, anxiety. that is bizarre. we don't promote alcohol that way and in the short run, getting drunk pay be a solution to your depression but in the long run it is not. it will make it worse. most of the time. ditto you're anxiety or other psychiatric conditions. we don't pretend alcohol is anything but an intoxicant but
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we pretend marijuana is medicine and we're told it's medicine, and that needs to end. the people who -- i think the legalization community doesn't realize on some level but has seized power dismiss power it and has won or almost won, and that it needs now to stop spreading mixes and start telling the truth and start encouraging responsible use of this drug that is something more than start low and go slow, which doesn't mean much of anything. but you can't -- i go all the way back to this, you can't expect people who are selling this product, or who have an good in use -- the legalization industry that the interest in wide year because the more accepted it would be. you can't expect those people be honest, and that's why journalists need to do their own work and guess what? there is a mountain of evidence. >> related to that, first let me
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ask you, some of this you could say is public perception and that's difficult, and there are legacies, but there are institutions that are designed and have the duty to make sure that when people make claims about health or quality of products or safety, that their job is to make sure that the public is protected. they're derelict. >> threadier electricity. the fda has not wanted to touch this. i was talking to a florida legislator last week and he is -- does not favor legalization at all but said even when we pick up the issue, we don't want to touch it because we get hundreds of phone calls. people in favor of legalization, they believe this stuff is magic and they do not want you to take away their magic. and we're hen -- forget take it away. even say it might not be magic. maybe you shouldn't use it all day every day. it's not a good idea.
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the aingeer and the vitriol. so, people say, we have opioids to worry about. we have the fact that six-year-olds are spending their lives on a mobile phone to worry about. we'll worry but this one later. but the mark -- there have been marketing for pregnant women -- is obscene. >> obscene. >> most substances even that are considered proven safe for nonpregnant individuals are -- have warning if you're pregnant to be careful because of the danger of interaction, and to allow that to good on and not shut that down seems to me -- you can say i can't take on the big thing but to not take on anything, even the small things, its outrageous. >> curious with canada. the process they went through,
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because they're -- and i think the fda and what they have and maybe shed a little light on how they went through it and made those decisions and what type of research they had, and then my other comment would be the best way to shirt down would be through lawsuits? i've seen plenty of drugs taken off the market. >> i think the liable is a real and serious one to the people in the industry. i've talked to some lawyers who agree. as for canada, i don't know that much. my wife is canadian so we were up in st. john's, in newfoundland. i've been practicing saying newfoundland for years and that's the wrong way. it's nufunland. this is -- i should listen more carefully to my wife. so her relatives are all nice
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canadians and have the nice canadian view of this, which is everybody use it anyway, and this way it will be regulated, and we can get some taxes, and it's no worse than alcohol. alcohol is probably worse. and so be it. and that's -- i do think that is basically the attitude that most people who haven't thought about the issue, who aren't aware of the potency. the canadian government said, let's do it. basically. this is going to happen. we want to try this. we think it's a good idea, and justin trudeau campaigned on that and won, and it happened. even in the dish by the way, the murder rate in canada, in the last four years, is up 40%, which is something that even a lot of canadians don't really
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know. now that's previously -- but use has been rising since the government seemed like that legalization was going to happen. and. >> again, opioid overdose deaths are a afternoon problem in canada. >> with the worst crisis in bc which has the highest rates of cannabis use. so the canadaans just did it, basically. really. that's my impression of it. and they're going to see what happens. and they do have some more warning that we do. they -- since they didn't -- there are some additional warnings and they've tried to controlleddibles, which is interesting because just in talking to people we know up there , there's a lot of people who useddibles and they're just going to continue to buy from their black market suppliers. this is clearly happening in colorado and california and the other legalized states.
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because you can grow your own, because there are taxes on the regulated product, there's a large supply of really cheap black market cannabis in those states, and seemingly in canada there's some of the same issues. again, i'm not an expert on the marge up there. so you get the worst of all world, legalized market where companies are promoting the product and marking and making it more available, and then you get a black market that is going to provide cheap cannabis to people under 21 in the u.s., 18 and under in canada, who can't buy legally, who ks for a fair amount of consumption, and there's violence with. that you get the drug promoted without warnings, and you get spike jones making a video for med man and then you get a bract market, too. it's really unous what we have done.
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>> thank you for your book. it's terrific to hear you. i'm not sure -- i think we're underestimating the exalt of this industry to insulate itself, immunize itself, buy itself political power, we have seen the donations and pressures at the state level. now at the federal level, when you are engaged at the level of u.s. congress with banking regulations, which currently do not enable an elicit business at the federal level to pay their federal tasks, open up the banking and investment structure, the financial apparatus. the blacker markets knost just people growing stuff on their windowsill and selling below the dispensaries. it's transjacks criminal organizations in colorado who are well-armed, lethal and muscling their way in who are
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sustaining smuggling out of the elicits marks and insulating themselves with million-of-dollars that are now seek entry into the u.s. financial banking structure and rescheduling of the drug itself which will then enable multiple laundered proceeds. much more threatening than we recognize how you turn this back. >> so, i don't deal with and a half in the book to me the book is about health and science and if you're a parent and your 17-year-old seems totally different and all of a sudden they say, i've been smoking -- vaping thc. i love it. great for me. and it's like, how come you can't get out of bed anymore? the book will give you the resources to deal with that. think what you're saying is true but you can argue that's the didn't an argue. in tape of full national legalization. that's the harms of prohibition and the crazy quilt of
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prohibition in some states and legalization in others, and people generating cash they can't get into the banking system. i think -- i honestly -- again, i don't favor a legalization but it would be better to have a conversation about that than where we are right now, which is nowhere. which is we're not talking -- we're pretending this is medicine and pretending this a solution to the opioid crisis rather than this is what it is. so, i'm not saying that there aren't -- clearly in california there are cartels growing in in colorado but to me that's more of a law enforcement issue, and a political question as opposed to a health and science question. >> also the part of it ground on earlier which is this topic, unlike other topics, doesn't have any consistency or rigor.
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ironically there were a group of the retail america california who came out strongly saying there's too much black market. we need enforce: this is completely unself-conscious. to say there is a black market after legalization. nobody even kind of throws the bull shit flag and says that's not true. so, what do you see as a kind of outcome when you can't have a discussion. >> or you have -- every democratache it to supports can full legalization nationally. one more. this man has had is hand up. >> wide did you learn but the cannabinoid being the -- >> i disagree with that
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question. >> this gentleman. >> since the train towards legalization is going forward pretty quickly would you favor some kind of restrictions on the strains or potency or the thc levels to. no just wind up with the black market then. let people see for themselves what an unregulated -- or a market that where there's no discussion but prohibition caused this or law enforcement's responsible for this. let them see for themselves what exposing lots of young minds to thc does and at the least wind up with some real warnings. thank you all. >> thank you, alex. [applause] >> he agreed to sign some books so we have some available at the back.
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